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Croatia’s drug legislation is somewhat relaxed, but cannabis users are still stigmatised. However, that might change in the near future.

Croatia is home to some of the most beautiful Mediterranean landscapes. The Croatian coastline has over 1,000 islands that attract millions of tourists each year. And, unbeknownst to many, Croatia is also home to one of the more relaxed cannabis legislations in Europe.

Every case of possession is unique, and Croatian judges can be forgiving or tough. Realistically speaking, even most of the harsh judges will pass a relatively small quantity of cannabis as a personal possession and let you off with a fine, albeit a larger one, but there are no guarantees that they will.

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As a tourist going to Croatia, you might now be wondering: ‘Is marijuana legal in Croatia? Can you smoke pot without being arrested?’ Read on to find out.

Now, since the law doesn’t define the maximum amount of cannabis one can possess for personal use in Croatia, the arresting police officer and the judge presiding over your case have the liberty to decide your penalty based on a variety of factors and circumstances. The amount of cannabis in your possession, your age, your criminal record and other factors weigh in on the verdict.

The current legislative system in Croatia prohibits unauthorised drug cultivation, possession and trafficking. Those who break the law are prosecuted under the Criminal Code. But the DAPA also outlines a framework for the prevention of drug use and the rehabilitation of drug users.

Croatia’s cannabis laws are already somewhat relaxed and permissive, and it’s encouraging to see that the country is taking decisive steps toward full legalisation.

The corona pandemic has done well to temporarily change the general conversation, and upcoming elections are focused on many different topics, but the question of legalization is far from gone. On July 5 th , Croatians will go to the polls for a parliamentary election called for by current president Zoran Milanovic. The two main parties in competition are the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Social Democrats (SDP). The SDP – Mirela Holy’s party – has been slightly trailing the HDZ, but should it win, one of the first orders of business is passing the recreational cannabis legislation.

Two of the legal acts that govern drug law in Croatia are the Criminal Code and The Law on Combating Drugs Abuse. The manufacturing, trade, and possession of drugs are regulated by The Law on Combating Drugs Abuse which passed in 2001, and which has undergone updates since that time. It outlines preventative measures for curbing drug use and dealing with drug users, and specifically forbids growing, possessing or supplying drugs. The Criminal Code is used for the prosecution of more serious crimes.

In February of this year, president of the Social Democratic Party’s Green Development Council, Mirela Holy, introduced a bill that would legalize recreational cannabis, as well as legalizing hemp for commercial purposes. Holy pushed those in government to see the economic value of a bill like this, citing countries like Paraguay and Canada that have their own legalization models, and herself pushing a hybrid structure that would involve the government and private business working together.

Will it happen?

In mid-December, 2012, the Croatian parliament voted in a bill to decriminalize personal use amounts of illicit substances, making possession of these amounts no longer a criminal offence (but rather a misdemeanor). Croatia does not establish what a personal use amount is, and leaves the designation to the courts in each particular case.

A look at Croatia’s history with cannabis legislation and general progress show an upward trajectory that is moving faster than some countries like Slovakia or Sweden, while being notably farther behind others like Spain and the Netherlands. Considering that Croatia’s personal use laws only knock offenders down to a misdemeanor status, while still essentially treating them like offenders, it makes what happened earlier this year even more out-of-place.

To be clear, whereas some personal use laws in other countries come with very few repercussions so long as the amount is within the legal requirement, Croatia’s decriminalization laws still leave an offender to pay a fine of possibly more than €2,000, ordered into a rehabilitation program, or required to do community service. Before the change in law, simple possession charges could result in up to three years in jail. The Criminal Code encourages courts to use alternatives to prison whenever possible, especially when the prison sentence would otherwise be six months or less.

Mirela Holy really has her eye on the ball when it comes to economic actions that can open up entire industries while providing ways for a cleaner environment. Her push towards more hemp usage, and her law for recreational cannabis legality, show a forward-thinking individual who might be a bit ahead of her time for her country, but who seems perfectly capable of bringing her country up to speed.

A bill was introduced at the start of this year that aimed to legalize cannabis for recreational use, and hemp for commercial uses. The bill would also allow growing up to 9 plants per adult for personal use.

Croatia is a hospitable tourist destination on the coast of the Adriatic Sea that has been actively developing over the past 20 years. Along with economic progress, some controversial topics are increasingly raised in society, one of which is cannabis legalization. In this matter, Croatia has made its way from complete prohibition to a moderate attitude towards weed use, despite still not being legal recreationally.

Croatia’s decriminalization laws can result in a fine of up to €2680, or community service, or attend a rehabilitation program. Before the change in the law, simple possession charges could result in up to three years in jail.

Medical Weed is Legal in Croatia

At the beginning of the 2000s in Croatia, it was forbidden not only to keep hemp but even depict it. They considered that pictures of marijuana were indirect propaganda of drugs. The country even banned products with images of the rapper Eminem because he released music with a sprig of the notorious cannabis on the cover. Since then, Croatia and cannabis have come a long way.

The production and cultivation of drugs, even without any intentions of selling, can result in 6 months – 5 years in jail. With the intention of selling, this timeframe increases to 1 – 12 years. It can go up to 15 years if minors are involved. If the situation is deemed to be organized crime, this can increase to 20 years in prison.

Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee the accuracy of this article at the time of reading. We take no responsibility for any inaccurate information.

This bill was introduced by a member of the Social Democratic Party (center-left). The center-right party won this year’s election, so it looks like for the next few years any progress around cannabis legalization will be small at best.